New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Ushering in a New Year the Chinese Way

As the rest of the world draws ever closer to making two months into a new year - 2013 - the Chinese are just starting theirs.

They marked their New Year on February 10, exactly 40 days after the other portion of the world ushered in theirs on January 1.

Because the Chinese follow the lunisolar calendar, last Sunday was the beginning of another year - also called the Snake Year.

The special day was celebrated by about 1.4 billion Chinese people peppered across the globe. Just as the natives took to festivities in China to usher in another year, their fellow countrymen did just that in other parts of the world.

Here in Uganda, particularly in Kampala, Fang Fang Restaurant hosted excited Chinese revelers. About 200 of them dined and mingled around tables at the city-based restaurant to see one another into the fresh year.

And it was a purely colourful affair - typically sprinkled with an unmistakable sweetness of the Chinese culture.

It started with singing of the Chinese national anthem, then delivery of speeches as the interaction accompanied the beers and snacks.

As is the norm-of-sorts, entertainment was part of the day's agenda. Some of the dances looked quite like Karate classed done over music. Music and acrobatic shows featured highly, as did dragon dances, and a lot more.

Chairperson of Uganda council for peaceful promotion of Chinese unification Fang Min and the Chairman of Uganda Chinese community on Security Zhang Jiang Peng. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa

The chairman of the Chinese Business Community in Uganda,Dr. Yu Bin, explained that the Chinese New Year is one of the most important traditional holidays back in China.

"It's a time of the year we gather around one another, around family, and give out gifts and wish one another a happy transition from the previous year into the next," said Dr. Bin, who is also a language professor at Makerere University.

"It's more like Christmas here or Thanks giving in America."

The festivities date back millions of years and and they last fifteen days until the Lantern Festival. They are arguably the biggest and longest celebrations marked on their calendar.

During these fifteen days, Dr. Bin said, the Chinese do not do any work.

"It's a time to rest and be around family," he said."If you were in China now you would see lots of people all walking home to their families. After the fifteen days are over then you see them again all walking back to work."

The chargé d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Uganda,Li Qianghua, promised that the Chinese people will remain committed especially in infrastructure development in the country.

He said there are a total of about 7000 Chinese involved in various sectors in Uganda but they were enjoying a 'cordial relationship' with the people of Uganda.

"Our construction companies are some of the best," said Qianghua. "We do buildings, highways, and are partnering with many government bodies to do many other projects and we hope to continue."

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